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  • Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology / La revue canadienne de

    lapprentissage et de la technologie, V33(3) Fall / automne, 2007

    Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology

    Volume 33(3) Fall / automne 2007

    Video-based multimedia designs: A research study testing

    learning effectiveness

    David Reiss


    David Reiss is an Assistant Professor of Video Production/Design at Towson UniversityElectronic Media and Film Department. Correspondence regarding this article can be sent


    Abstract: This paper summarizes research conducted on three

    computer-based video models effectiveness for learning

    based on memory and comprehension. In this quantitative

    study, a two-minute video presentation was created and

    played back in three different types of media players, for a

    sample of eighty-seven college freshman. The three players

    evaluated include a standard QuickTime video/audio player, a

    QuickTime player with embedded triggers that launched

    HTML-based study guide pages, and a Macromedia

    Flash-based video/audio player with a text field, with user

    activated links to the study guides as well as other interactive

    on-line resources. An assumption guiding this study was that

    the enhanced designs presenting different types of related

    information would reinforce the material and produce better

    comprehension and retention. However, findings indicate that

  • the standard video player was the most effective overall,

    which suggests that media designs able to control the focus

    of a learners attention to one specific stream of information, a

    single-stream focused approach, may be the most effective

    way to present media-based content.

    Rsum: Cet article rsume une tude vrifiant lefficacit de

    lapprentissage bas sur la mmorisation et la

    comprhension, conduite partir de trois modles bass sur

    la vido informatise. Dans cette tude quantitative, une vido

    de deux minutes a t cre et lue sur trois types de lecteurs

    diffrents, pour un chantillon de 87 tudiants universitaires

    de premire anne. Les trois lecteurs valus comprenaient

    un lecteur standard audio/vido Quicktime, un lecteur

    Quicktime avec dclencheurs intgrs qui lanait un guide

    dtude en HTML, et un lecteur audio/vido Flash Macromedia

    avec un champ texte, comprenant des liens activs par

    lusager vers des guides dtude et dautres ressources

    interactives en ligne. Une supposition guidant cette tude tait

    que les designs enrichis prsentant diffrents types

    dinformations interrelies renforceraient le matriel et

    produiraient une meilleure comprhension et une meilleure

    rtention. Cependant, les rsultats indiquent que le lecteur

    vido standard tait le plus efficace, ce qui suggre que les

    designs de mdias concentrant lattention de lapprenant sur

    une source dinformation spcifique seraient la meilleure

    faon de prsenter du contenu mdiatis.

  • Introduction

    As different forms of media converge via newly developed

    technologies, the development and use of multimedia designs

    that incorporate video playback as a major component have

    been adopted by educational multimedia creators. There is a

    significant body of video-based research that suggests that

    cognitive processing, both conscious and unconscious, is

    largely bypassed during the act of screening video (largely

    based on studies of television viewing). According to visual

    theorist Fred Barry and others, video and audio playback tap

    into the emotional part of the brain, and viewers become

    emotionally, but not logically, involved with the medium

    (Barry, 1997; Halloran, 1970) . Emotional versus logical

    involvement may occur because as viewers watch television,

    their brains move into a hypnotic alpha rhythm stage, much

    like daydreaming, even after watching television for as little as

    thirty seconds (Barry, 1997) . As viewers become relaxed, the

    left side of their brain, which tends to process information and

    is more analytical, becomes inactive, allowing the right side of

    their brain to process information both uncritically and

    emotionally (Dixon, 1981) . In such a state, viewers are

    susceptible to emotional manipulation just when they are

    forming ideas and attitudes about the viewed material and

    content (Barry, 1997) . Krugman (1970) argues that while the

    brains response to print is characterized by fast brain waves

    and mental activity, the brains response to television can be

    described as passive and is largely made up of slow brain

  • waves. What can be concluded from this information is that

    viewers tend to become emotionally involved with television

    and that images stream into the psyche bypassing the logical

    part of the brain (Krugman, 1970) .

    Much of the existing research on multimedia learningwhich

    may include the use of text, spoken word, video, audio,

    animation, and graphicsappears to be performed only on a

    few specific types of media designs, such as the combination

    of the spoken word and animation. The author anticipated

    some interesting and insightful results from a comparative

    study of three different multimedia designs that shared the

    same content, focused on video playback, and included the

    latest innovations for video streaming such as embedded

    triggers in streaming video.

    Theoretical Perspective

    The theoretical perspective for this study is found in Mayers

    (2001) well-established cognitive theory of multimedia

    learning. Mayers work is based on a learner-centered

    approach, which begins with an understanding of how human

    cognition works and focuses on the use of multimedia to

    enhance human learning. Some of the key findings and

    techniques leading to effective practice and models that relate

    to the present study include:

    Spoken narration combined with an onscreen visual guide

    that does not split the attention of the learner, but in fact can

  • enhance the experience in certain instances.

    Sudden onset of pictures and animation is more effective for

    learning than static pictures alone, presumably by directing

    the learners attention and focus to specific elements in the

    visual display.

    The sudden onset of having visual elements appear

    produces the same learning enhancements as an animated

    presentation. Thus, the procedure of flashing appropriate

    parts of the pictorial information as they are described in the

    spoken narrative is as effective as a full animation. (Craig,

    Gholson, & Driscoll, 2002)

    Researchers have focused on how various design features

    relate to human information processing, such as comparing

    and testing designs that place a light load versus a heavy load

    on a learners visual processing channel. Allan Pavio (1986), f

    or example, developed a human cognitive theory termed dual

    coding, in which he makes a case that the human brain is

    divided into two cognitive subsystems, one for processing

    nonverbal objects and information, and one for processing

    language. The research done by both Mayer and Pavio provide

    a theoretical base for the design of the present study in which

    the same video content is presented using three different

    models and tested for learning effectiveness.

    Purpose of Study

  • Video and other media forms in multimedia environments can

    be effective for learning, especially in designs aimed at a

    constructivist notion of effective learning. Research has been

    done using specific designs and components and comparing

    multimedia to traditional learning approaches. More studies

    that test specific variables and components of similar designs

    that are conceived based on the same video/audio playback

    component, but presented in different forms to teach the same

    subject matter, are needed. The present study was designed

    to help address this specific knowledge gap.

    This type of research is important as different forms of

    computer media, like streaming QuickTime video, now offers

    designers the ability to quickly create multimedia

    environments within these specific formats (by embedding

    triggers in the video stream itself). This technology enables

    the content creator, such as a video editor, to create a

    multimedia playback environment, which is a fundamental

    shift. Typically the process of post production where content

    is created through video and audio editing has been limited to

    a single screen, but these creators can now include other

    media components such as pop-up windows in their work.

    While designing the multimedia models for this study, the

    author ensured that one model would utilize steaming

    QuickTime video with embedded triggers that launched

    pop-up study guide windows during the presentation.

  • A key goal in this study was to determine if increased

    interactivity is more effective for learning (based on measures

    of comprehension and retention) when compared to similar

    models with less interactivity. Based on previous research

    and media design theories, specific study questions emerged,

    such as: (1) Is a video that bypasses the analytical part of the

    brain, but connects to the emotional part, a better or worse

    teaching tool?; (2) How much interac


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